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“I know I’m a good sprinter, but when you look at the field here it’s some of the best in the world. I just came here to try and learn from those guys and I just found myself in a good position. I crossed the line and I co...

Photo: Sirotti

HERALD SUN TOUR

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ROBERT-JON MCCARTHY

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08.02.2014 @ 09:39 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Robert-John McCarthy (Australia U23 National Team) proved that there is a lot more to come from the 19-year-old sprinter when he upset the Australian sprinting elite to win the third stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. Having been in the shadow of super talent Caleb Ewan for most of his young career, he had mainly lined up at the race to get experience and was speechless to suddenly find himself with a stage win.

 

Unheralded 19-year-old sprinter Robert-John McCarthy has upset a cast of highly fancied riders, to claim a frantic bunch sprint in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour’s 156 kilometre third stage from Mitchelton Winery to Nagambie. Migrating to Australia with his family seven years ago from Ireland, McCarthy, who has spent the last couple of domestic seasons in the shadow of Australian sprint wunderkind Caleb Ewan, said this was the most significant win of his fledgling career.

  

McCarthy too was lucky to be in a position to challenge at the finish, forced to veer off the road to narrowly avoid a crash caused by a clash of wheels that toppled Garmin-Sharp sprint ace Steele Von Hoff and forced KordaMentha Real Estate - Team Australia’s Pat Shaw to abandon 13 kilometres from the stage finish.

 

In a Tour that was intended as a learning experience for McCarthy, it was the Jayco Australia U23 Team rider that handed his opponents a lesson on getting to the line.

 

“I knew I have the speed, for me the hard part was just getting to the line with those established lead out trains,” said McCarthy, who’s most significant victory prior to today was a junior national road race title in 2012 ahead of Ewan. “It’s really hard when you’re not in one of those established teams to earn the respect of those guys, but I hope I have done that now.

 

"I had to fight really, really hard for position and I decided I was going to be the last guy of someone’s train," he added. “I saw Jonathan Cantwell with about one kilometre and a half to go and I just jumped on his wheel and waited and waited, and then moved around maybe 250m to go and just went for it, and held on for the line.

 

"Maybe I was a bit lucky with positioning and I just gave it 100%, for me the hard part was getting to the line with those established sprint trains. There was a big fight for his [Matt Goss] wheel so I wasn't getting involved in that. I was just trying to follow Jonathan Cantwell in the finish."

 

Admitting himself to being a relative unknown in the race, McCarthy’s reaction to upstaging some of world cycling’s elite in Nagambie was that of shock.

 

“I know I’m a good sprinter, but when you look at the field here it’s some of the best in the world,” McCarthy said. “I just came here to try and learn from those guys and I just found myself in a good position. I crossed the line and I couldn’t believe it. I’m a bit speechless to be honest.”

 

The Jayco Herald Sun Tour ends tomorrow when the riders tackle the queen stage that ends with three passages of the steep Arthur's Seat climb.

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